Gardening Vegetables

Save Money on Asparagus in the Vegetable Garden

Thomas Jefferson Loved This 15-Year Producing Organic Crop

Asparagus is a very healthy food; in addition to folic acid, it provides plenty of potassium, fiber, thiamine, and the vitamins A, C, and B6. It’s also low in sodium, making it great for people with hypertension, or high blood pressure.

The History of Asparagus as a Food Source

Asparagus officinalis has been cultivated and enjoyed for thousands of years. According to the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board, it was domesticated in 200 B.C. by the Macedonians. The Romans were so enamored of it that they dedicated a fleet to deliver it.

It’s thought that the British brought it to the colonies where it found a welcome home. Thomas Jefferson, in addition to being one of America’s greatest statesmen and author of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, was also an avid horticulturist and grew it in his Monticello gardens.

Why Grow it in the Garden Instead of Buying it at the Grocery Store?

  • Economics is the primary reason for most people. With the current economic downturn, people are looking for ways to save money. This is one of the “expensive” items in the produce department. Randy Lemmon (GardenLine radio show, KTRH AM, Houston) has been mentioning this. There’s no sense growing the cheap stuff.
  • Buying the crowns to plant is a one-time issue. It’s not unheard of for an asparagus patch to produce a crop for up to 15 years! Not bad for a one-time investment.
  • It ensures reaping an organic food crop, if desired. The residential farmer regulates soil composition, the fertilization schedule, and garden pest control.

How to Set Up the Farm

It’s easy to plant in either a conventional or a raised bed vegetable garden. It’s a good idea to prepare the soil a good 2 weeks prior to planting to allow the soil to rest.

This plant likes sandy well-drained soil in full sun. It also prefers a high pH; the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board recommends 7.0. Adding lime to the soil will raise the numbers. Adding in some compost is a good soil amendment.

Buy the crowns at a reputable plant nursery; they won’t be found in Home Depot’s garden center. They need to be planted in trenches 8 to 10 inches deep. There should be a minimum of 4 feet between adjacent trenches.

Harvesting an Asparagus Crop

It’s not recommended to harvest the first year. Instead, the spears that emerge will turn into attractive fern-like plants, eventually developing red “berries”.

Spears may be taken the following season by either cutting or snapping just at or below the surface. The crowns will yield spears for an average of 2 months beginning each spring. Since they can be picked at intervals ranging from each day to every 5 days, a fresh supply is ready for the table almost continuously during the season.

When harvesting is done for the season, allow the ferns and berries to grow. This process “recharges” the crowns for the next year. Finally, when all the ferns have turned brown, cut them down and spread some compost on the garden

Gardening Vegetables

How To Plant, Grow and Store Potatoes

Potatoes are a popular choice of vegetable to plant and grow at home. Growing potatoes is not hard and can provide you with a steady supply of vegetables for many months.

Growing potatoes is an easy, simple, and very rewarding gardening project for anyone.

This section will outline the steps to grow potatoes. Check out this article if you want to grow sweet potatoes.

Prepare soil – Potatoes are a very hearty vegetable so they need deep fertile soil that will give them great drainage and room to grow without being too wet or dry. You can prepare this by adding organic compost or fertilizer to the soil before you plant your potatoes.

Plant potatoes – Carefully plant each potato in a depth of about one foot apart from each other with the hills about two feet apart from each other as well, but leave enough space for you to be able to work around them when harvesting.

When to plant potatoes

When to plant potatoes
When to plant potatoes

There is no such thing as a “perfect time” to plant potatoes. It is best to plant them in the early spring, so they will have enough time to grow and mature before the season changes. They can also be planted in late summer, but there is a higher risk of frost and other adverse weather conditions. Potatoes can be planted from March to April, but they are usually planted during the period from the beginning of March to the end of April.

They should never be planted after May as they will mature too late for late harvesting. Planting potatoes in late spring will yield the best results. The optimum time to plant potatoes is in mid-spring to early summer, when the soil is warm but not too dry. Planting should not occur before April or after July because this can lead to a lack of growth or deterioration in quality.

Soil Preparation For Potatoe Planting

To learn about what soil preparation is and how it can help you be a better gardener, keep reading!

Soil preparation is the process of giving the ground a thorough treatment before you plant anything in it. You can either remove weeds, prepare beds, or just simply till the land break up clumps of dirt, but whichever way you choose, it needs to be done thoroughly so that it can be ready for planting.

The process usually begins with tilling the ground if there are any weeds growing or before laying down new beds or tilling again if there are clumps of dirt all over the place. To do this, turn over the earth with a spade and make sure that you dig deep enough and break up any lumps of dirt

Planting potatoes in the ground is a fairly easy process.

Step 1: Prepare your soil by adding organic fertilizer, peat moss, and compost

Step 2: Dig a trench wide enough for planting potatoes in rows about 3 inches apart with each row spaced about 12 inches apart

Step 3: Add 6-8 inches of organic mulch on top of the soil to help your plants grow.

Step 4: Plant potatoes with the eyes facing up and cover them with 2-4 more inches of soil

Potatoe Harvesting

The harvesting of potatoes is one of the most important steps in the process of potato production.

Potatoes are usually harvested by hand. A digger may be used to clean up potatoes that have not been harvested by hand.

The first step is to remove all vegetation on the surface of the soil with a hoe. The earth should be loosened deeply enough to expose some tubers, but care must be taken not to damage them or work the soil too hard, as this will cause them to deteriorate more quickly.

Next, potatoes are dug up carefully with a sharp shovel at an angle so that they are turned out of the ground for inspection without being broken or bruised. If any potatoes are found that show signs of disease, they should be removed and destroyed immediately as they will spoil others.

Where and how to store potatoes

Potatoes are rich in vitamins and minerals. Here are some tips on how to store potatoes so that they stay fresh for a longer period of time.

Potatoes store best in a cool place. The basement of the house is the best place to store potatoes.

Potatoes should be stored in a cool place, preferably in the refrigerator.

Wrap the potatoes with newspaper or porous cloth so that they don’t touch each other and lose moisture.

Store potatoes in a plastic bag, trying to keep them out of contact with other food items. When possible, store them separately from apples or onions, which emit gases that lead to sprouting or rotting potato flesh due to their high sugar content.

Potatoes that are stored at a temperature of 40 degrees or below will last for several months. You can store them outside on the ground, in an unheated garage, or in a shed. If you want to store potatoes inside your home, you should put them in a dark cool place like the basement or pantry.

How Vegetables

How To Thicken Tomato Plant Stems And Accelerate Tomato Plant Growth

Although it’s enjoyable to grow tomatoes in your garden, they must produce good quality fruit. The problem with thin stems is that they can become spindly and brittle. Here is my research about how to make thick stems for tomato plants.

To get thick stems, tomato plants need to be given enough sunlight, water, and nitrogen. Lack of sunlight is the main reason for spindly stems. Get at least 8-10 hours of sunlight per day for your tomato plants.

To ensure that your tomato plants have thick stems and healthy growth, there are many more things you can do. They will grow lots of leaves and fruits, as well as be able to support the fruits without causing the plant to collapse.

The tomato plant should receive enough sunlight

Lack of sunlight is the most common reason tomato plants develop tall and spindly stems. To grow best, tomato plants require at least 8-10 hours of direct sun.

In order to obtain as much sunlight as possible, the tomato plants will grow in the opposite direction to the sun. The stems will become taller and more spindly because of this.

If you are starting seeds indoors, ensure that they get enough sunlight by placing them near a windowsill.

To ensure that the seeds start trays get enough sunlight, rotate them every day.

You can also invest in indoor lighting to help your tomato seedlings germinate.

After the seedlings have germinated you will need to transplant them in containers or in your garden. You should choose a location where your tomato plants will receive the sun.

Avoid placing the plant in an area that is shaded by other plants or trees. You may have to trim some branches or plants from trees if you are already growing tomatoes.

You may also need to transplant your tomato plant to another area that gets good sunlight.

It’s easy to transplant them and grow them again. You will need to take out the root ball and place it in the desired location.

Cover a good part of the stem with soil, at least until the first set of leaves appear. This allows the stem to grow thicker and develop new roots.

If you’re growing the tomato plants in containers, it’s easier to move them around to an area that receives the required sunlight.

Avoid crowding the tomato plants

If you plant your tomatoes too close together, they can become spindly and tall.

Plants that grow together will struggle for sunlight, water, nutrients, and other resources.

To increase the chances of seeds germinating, you can plant multiple seeds in the same tray. Once the seedlings have grown a few inches in height, it is time to thin them.

Thinning refers to the removal of the most healthy seedlings from the tray. This allows the one seedling to have the best chance of growing strong, healthy, and thick.

When growing tomatoes in the garden, it is important to keep them at a safe distance. The exact distance will vary depending on the variety, but you should aim for at least 1-3 feet between plants.

This will allow the tomato plants to grow at a distance that allows for enough sunlight to reach them all. Their roots are allowed to grow in sufficient space so they can spread out in the soil and not interfere with one another.

If you are growing tomatoes in containers, it is best to only grow one plant per container. This allows the tomato plants to have enough space and not be overcrowded with other plants.

If you’re already facing the problem of growing the tomato plants too close whether in the garden or in the container, you need to transplant one of them to another location or container.

Make sure the plants get enough nitrogen

The element that will give your tomato plant the best growth is nitrogen. The nitrogen will be extracted from the roots of the tomato plant.

To get thicker tomato plant stems you need to ensure they have enough nitrogen. A nitrogen-rich fertilizer can be added to tomato plants to achieve this.

It could be a slow-release fertilizer you apply to the soil. It could also be a liquid fertilizer, which you spray on the soil or the leaves.

The N-P-K value will be indicated on the fertilizer you purchase from the store. The N symbol stands for nitrogen, P stands for phosphate, and K stands for potassium.

A balanced fertilizer can be used with N-P–K of 5-5-5. You can also use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer with N-P-K 10-5-5.

Both are good for adding nitrogen to the soil in which you grow tomatoes.

Follow the instructions on the fertilizer container or box. Mix the fertilizer in the correct amount with the soil.

You can cause more harm than good by fertilizing the soil too often. Excessive nitrogen can cause the tomato plants’ roots to become dry and spindly.

You must ensure that the tomato plants have good aeration

The soil must provide enough oxygen for the tomato plant roots to absorb the nutrients and sunlight.

The tomato plants will grow thicker stems if they have enough oxygen.

Good quality soil is the best way to ensure adequate aeration. It will have a texture that allows for air circulation and has the right consistency.

The soil must have the correct amount of clay and/or sand. Too much clay can cause soil to become lumpy and lack aeration.

Too much sand will result in soil that is too dry, but tomato plants will suffer from poor root development.

You must ensure that the soil texture is right for your tomato plants. Make sure to conduct a soil test on the soil before you add any amendments.

You can purchase the best quality soil if you are growing tomatoes in raised beds.

You can purchase a good-quality potting soil if you are growing your tomato plants in a container. This will ensure that they get the right amount of airflow.

Make sure to give the tomatoes plants enough water

Another common problem is the lack of moisture, which can cause tomato stems to spindly and get taller.

To grow tomatoes and produce healthy fruits, they need lots of water. You need to ensure watering the tomato plants as soon as they need it.

Sticking your finger about 1-2 inches into the soil is the best way to find out. If your fingertip does not feel moist, you should water the soil. This works regardless of whether the tomato plants are grown in-ground or in containers.

To ensure that the water reaches all the roots, you must water your tomato plants well. The roots won’t develop deep and sturdy roots if you only water the surface.

It is very easy to see water coming out of drainage holes in a container.

Don’t overwater tomato plants. This can lead to root rot or fungal diseases.


How To Make and How To Grow Sweet Potatoes

Everybody, at least once in life, need to try sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas). Years ago sweet potatoes were more like a festival food and like a delicatessen, but right now you can get them in almost all grocery or fruit stores and can find them on any restaurant menu.

You can serve sweet potatoes in many ways:

  • Boiled
  • Fried
  • With butter or greek yogurt
  • With cinnamon
  • With brown sugar

Just try it with one of the things above, you will love it.

How to make sweet potatoes at home?

If you have large potatoes, then choose one potato per person, but if small, then few for each person. Do not peel them, just wash off all dirt. After this put them in a pot and boil for 2 hours. If you are using low fire, then 4 hours. That’s it! I’m eating sweet potatoes with cheese and chicken meat. It’s perfect!

Why is sweet potato so good?

Because it’s full of potassium, vitamin A and C. And another good thing – I remember when my mother was growing them in her garden, and I was like eight years old. When the potato was green, I wanted to pull them out and see how big they are, but my mother said that you need to wait for the potato top to die. When it turns yellow, you are ready to pull. And that satisfying feeling when you pull out a potato who is bigger than your arm or sometimes even head.

Tips for growing sweet potatoes.

  1. They are very sensitive to frost. Plant them when all frost is gone. I start to plant them at the end of May.
  2. Make a good compost for them, at least 7 inches deep and rich in minerals. Potatoes prefer dry soil.
  3. Make a garden for potatoes where always is sun and water does not collect if raining.
  4. If you want to root sprouts in your house, then do it at least 90 days before the last frost. So you will be ready to plant after the last frost.
  5. When planting, put a lot of soil on the plant.
  6. Don’t use nitrogen fertilizer on the potatoes. It will make roots grow too fast
  7. Don’t put too much water on them when the weather is dry. The roots will start to rot.
Gardening Vegetables

How To Plant Tomatoes and Take Care OF Them

There are many reasons why many gardeners can’t or don’t want to build a greenhouse or hothouse. It can be because of money problems, space problems, or you just want to try how to plant tomatoes without a greenhouse.

The best time to plant tomatoes is in the spring when the soil reaches a temperature of 55 degrees F or higher. You can plant tomato seedlings about an inch deep with their leaves spread out under moist soil. Make sure you provide enough water until they start to grow because plants require sufficient water for their roots to take hold and thrive.

In warm climates, tomatoes feel well without additional shelters. But if your weather sometimes gets colder, you need to cover plants with a film.

Growing tomatoes in open ground – its advantages and disadvantages.

Growing tomatoes in the open ground have certain advantages:

  • Tomatoes are growing stronger and have higher immunity against diseases and bugs.
  • Tomatoes do not like excessive humidity, and when they are growing without a greenhouse, they are growing in weather they like better.
  • When tomatoes are growing outside it’s almost impossible to get a Solanaceae disease which is a kinda terrible disease.
  • They will taste a lot better and tomatoes will be fuller with vitamins

And its disadvantages:

  • Some particular tomato species can be grown only in the greenhouse, and if you try to grow them outside, they will just die.
  • It’s harder to adjust the right humidity and temperature of the soil. It’s easier in the greenhouse.
  • Tomatoes in the open ground are growing a lot slower.
  • Tomatoes don’t have time to develop protection from the frost
  • If in a greenhouse tomato harvest will be 10lb, then in open ground 7lb
  • You will need to harvest tomatoes when they are green because when growing them outside, they don’t reach maturity.

Which tomato variety to choose from?

You can’t just buy any tomato breed and seed it. You need to choose the breed, which is resistant to any kind of weather – sudden frost, drought, heat, too much humidity.

There are also early and mid-early tomatoes. Later varieties do not have time to mature before frost or too cold weather. On eBay or similar shops, you can buy almost all kinds of tomatoes, they just differ in color, shape, pulp density, size, and nuances of taste.

Tomato breeds for growing outside have low determinant shrubs. You can plant them in simple soil and don’t need to fix them. But there is also a breed that needs fixing. You need to tie up not only the stalks but also branches with heavy fruits.

Indeterminate plants are tomatoes that produce fruit onward the length of the plant. Determinate tomatoes are just a bush with tomatoes that have fruits only at the end of branches only.

To find out if you have chosen a determinate variety, check the tag. If you have one of these – Independence day, Polbig F1, Bush Beefsteak, Celebrity F1, or Artic Fire, then you have a determinate variety.

But if you have Sun Gold, Sweet Million, or anything else, then you have indeterminate variety.

Tomato Varieties that are suitable for open-field

Black prince: A very rich variety from Russia. Tomatoes are red-brown, very large with a rich, sweet taste. Bushes are resistant to late diseases, scabs, and other popular diseases.

Korneevsky: Red and pink color. Large fruits and sweet taste. Resistant to diseases. Big bush, so you will need to tie it up.

Altai:  There are variations of red, pink, and honey-yellow fruit. All cold resistant, easy to care of. Bushes are compact, neat, very high yield.

Bells of Russian: Rare variety from Russia. Resistant to short-term frost and drought. Fruits pink, medium-sized, beautiful elongated shape. Tomatoes are good for canning.

Bullfinch: Bushes compact, standard-type, very unpretentious. The yield is good, juicy tomatoes, pleasant taste, suitable for canning or salads.

Marfa tomato: High-yielding hybrid middle-Russian selection. Drought-resistant, are rarely affected by pests, it bears fruit until frost, has an excellent keeping quality and time.

All these varieties are suitable for growing outside. They all are Russian species, and as you know, Russians know how to grow stuff. 🙂

These species are well adapted to all kinds of regions with mild or warm climates. If you have cooler weather, at the beginning you will need to cover tomatoes with a film.

To avoid unpleasant surprises, you need to choose the seeds on which bags are clearly shown that they are suitable for growing in the open ground. Also, you need to understand that sowing the seeds directly in the garden is not necessary. It is better to grow the seedling in the home and then move it in the greenhouse or open ground. Do it only then, when seedlings are developed stronger.

Grow Tomatoes Before Planting Them Outside

Planting tomato seedlings is relatively easy. It’s a two-step process of either planting the seedlings in a container or directly in the ground.

The first step of planting tomatoes is to select a container with drainage holes on the bottom. Fill it with potting mix and then put your plant into it.

Secondly, you’ll want to water and keep your plant moist until it takes root and begins growing full-size leaves.

For this you need to have some soil, a pot or container, some seeds or seedlings and water. The first thing you have to do is fill the pot with enough soil for your plants. Then you need to plant the tomato seedlings in the soil.

You may also put them in containers if you want to grow them indoors. After that wet the soil on top of your plants until it became moist then cover it with a plastic sheet and put it somewhere sunny and warm (not hot). You should water your plants regularly and fertilize them when needed.

Watering tips: Don’t water just once because it draws air into the soil which can damage seedlings. Avoid watering at night as it encourages growth that will not be able to sustain sunlight during daytime hours.

How to grow strong seedlings for open ground?

Growing tomatoes in the open ground include earlier seed sowing for seedlings. Typically sowing begins in late February or early/middle March. The seeds should not be too old. Best tomatoes are growing from seeds that are 2-3 years old. You need to disinfect the seeds and put them in liquid growth stimulant for 12 hours.

Soil preparation begins 10-14 days before planting. Tomatoes prefer light and fertile soil. It must contain sand or topsoil too.  Before planting tomatoes, lose the soil and shed it with potassium permanganate. This treatment kills harmful microorganisms and insect larvae. Tomatoes will not get diseases because of this step.

The yield of tomatoes depends on the nutrition level of the soil. It’s recommended to add humus, wood (preferably birch), and ashes. You can also add fertilizer, for example – superphosphate, or potassium sulfate.

Seeds were sown in deep trays. Each seed in its own container if the container is small in diameter. If you have a bigger pot or box, you can add as much as you want, but remember the distance – 4inch. Sowing in small pots is better because when you are taking it out, you will not break its root system as you would in a bigger pot.

Tomatoes can be grown awesomely in paper cups, peat pots, sour creme pots or any kind of small container.

Taking care of seedlings is easy. After sowing immediately cover them with a film and place it into the heat. Successful germination will be when seeds are 1,5-2 long. When they reach that length, put them in bright light. You need to protect them from drafts and direct sunlight.

Watering – use only warm and soft water -preferably rainwater.

When tomato seeds have deployed two leaves, replant them into individual pots. This needs to be done only if you sow them in a large box or pot. When you have done transplanting, feed them with fertilizer. They will get stronger and stronger. It also stimulates the immune system.

Tomatoes In A Pot
Tomatoes In A Pot

2 weeks before transplanting them into open ground, you need to harden seedlings. Bring them to the balcony or veranda once per day. On the first day for 1 hour, next day for 2 and so on. Then put them outside all day if the weather is good. If you will do it right, you will see that plants are getting bright green.

Transplanting tomatoes into the ground

For the successful breeding of tomatoes, it is important to choose the correct place where to plant them. Do not plant tomatoes in the areas which were occupied by eggplant, potatoes, or other nightshades.

Tomatoes love bright but diffused light. If they are in shadow, they will not grow. It’s important that the soil does not drown in the water so choose a place where water can get out of the garden. Consequences of that are black stems, dead roots, vertex, or botrytis. Feel free to add nutrients to the soil. Tomatoes need a lot of vitamins.

Plant tomatoes in the ground when the soil is warmed up. Soil temperature needs to be above 15 degrees (59 Fahrenheit). Typically, such a soil temperature reaches close to the end of May.

You can warm up soil manually too. Just cover desired tomato spot with two layers of polyethylene film. It will get soil war faster and will prevent the growth of weeds.

A week before planting, the soil should be loosened purging it from the remainder of weeds and/or plants. Planting can’t take place if the weather is hot. If it’s hot, do it in the morning or late evening. Better morning. Cloudy days are the best days for transplanting.

Tomatoes that are ready for planting should be strong and not overgrown. Seeding must be at least 6 inches tall. Take a look at all plants and check if they were not affected by pests or were not hurt somehow. Take tomato plants carefully. They are easy to break. Overgrown tomatoes will have many leaves. Remove 2-3 leaves. It will allow flowers and other leaves to spread bigger.

When planting, do not plant more often than every 23 inches. If you have small bush tomatoes, then plant in every 15 inches. Do not go under 15 inches. Planting is as same as you did when putting them in separate pots. When you are putting tomato plants in the soil, pour some kelp meal and some bone meal into each plant spot. It will give them a growing kick.

Fill the hole with the soil and slightly press it with the hand. Cover the top of the soil with a thin layer of peat.  Tomatoes after planting should be watered with warm water.  That’s all about planting.

Take care of tomatoes

Taking care of tomatoes in open ground is as same as if they were in a greenhouse. Except for one condition – they don’t need ventilation. If the weather is getting too cold, you can cover them with a film, but that’s not necessary.

If you are planting tomatoes in the open ground, prepare for weather changes. Care includes – regular watering, fertilizing, and timely removal of weeds.

Tomatoes will need time, but not excessive watering. Monitoring rain is important. If you will water tomatoes and after 15 minutes it will start to rain, there will be too much water and tomatoes can start to rot.  Use only warm water. If you use cold water, it will shock plants and they can die.

The yield of tomatoes depends on the nutrition level in the soil. You need to feed the soil 2 weeks after planting tomatoes in the ground. Use full complex fertilizer with a high content of phosphorus and potassium. Suitable superphosphate, or potassium sulfate. After fertilizing, you need to water tomatoes a lot. You need to wash away fertilizers from the stems and leaves. If you do not wash them away, they will burn the plant, and it will die.

Industrial insecticides are good pest killers. It destroys thrips, spider mites, whitefly. The good thing is that in the open ground tomatoes get diseases less often.

That’s all about planting tomatoes in the open ground. Hope learned something new. As always – if you have any questions or something to fix in this article, feel free to comment 🙂